I Don’t Disagree

In recent months you notice that more and more colleagues use the phrase “I don’t disagree”. Now, at first that seems like a perfectly reasonable statement to be made, but your brain hurts when you think about it for more than two seconds.

On a continuum between “I Agree” to “I disagree” where does “I don’t disagree” live? Is it closer to Agree? Is it closer to Disagree? When did Agree and Disagree became so nuanced that a simple binary option, a zero or one, is failing us. Did we reach a stage in our human evolution that we we need to live on a continuum of options?

Double negatives are always fun to interpret since they leave so much room which is probably not goal oriented in an engineering discussion. It is ok to disagree. It’s nice to have agreement. But if you don’t disagree, then what do you do? Is this statement just an empty air-filler, similar to “you know” and “like” that is actually not meant to agree or disagree, but is meant to say “I acknowledge that you said something”?

Let us go back to simpler times where we could agree or disagree with our colleagues and friends.  We can even discuss why we disagree Рmaybe we will even convince our conversation partners to change their mind and agree with our opposing opinion. The English language does not need a third option.


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